The Day Before the Big One

So here I am, in hospital, waiting for the evening to pass, sleep to come, and the big day to roll around.

It’s been a weird arrival into the ward, you’re expected to just slot into the seemingly timetabled haphazardness of everything and just get in with it.

I’ve been shaved, showered in bacteria killing pink stuff, had tea, interviewed by a nurse and the anesthesiologist, and now I’m back in my jeans waiting for visiting again.

It’s all very surreal, but it’s all very scary too.

The four gents in here, all seemingly getting more serious operations than myself, are saying little. There are heavy sighs and gazing into nowhere, it seems our thoughts are all very similar. Concerned, maybe scared, and just waiting for time to pass.

The great news for me is that I’m first on the schedule tomorrow. The anesthesiologist says the morning drugs will start coming around 07:45, followed by cannulas galore, and from the sounds of it I’ll be knocked out before nine even rolls round.

Next thing I’ll know is I will either be waking up in ICU or HDU and I could even be back in the ward the same day.

The arrival though was somewhat confused. We came in a little later than the letter we were sent suggested, the first people to arrive it would later transpire, and we had to wait for ten minutes or so in order for a bed to become available. Rather we waited for the physical beds to arrive and the section of the ward to be made up.

I was asked to come through for blood collection and to leave my bag, but two steps towards the ward I was asked to take the bag again, seems as though the ward was now ready. The nurse trumped off to check the ward with the blood collection nurse following at some speed behind. I assumed I was at to follow, which I did, and wandered where we were going. Turns out it was the ward I was destined for but I walked in alone and didn’t know which bed I was going for or if I was supposed to claim one, unpack, or anything.

After my blood was taken I was pretty much abandoned until a charge nurse eventually came to interview me for my general state of health and gave me some pointers on using the bed and alarm.

The arrival is, as far as I can see, one of the most influential moments of the visit. It’s here that my first impressions are made, and here that I’m feeling my most scared and vulnerable, so it was nice that they took this opportunity to relax me and shave my chest.

The poor nurse that was assigned to carry out the shaving exercise was hopeful that it would be easy considering my head was bald. She asked if I was hairy, I said yes, and then she asked how hairy, I showed her.

What a shock she got, and she was keen to tell the other nurses that she had been dumped with the hairiest one on the ward.

That was borne out as the first set of clippers died on her and she had to search for a better pair. Poor lady. I really didn’t think I was that hairy.

Next up was a shower, but since I was so hairy and it had taken so long to plow through, I had to sit covered in talc and left over shaved hair while I ate my tea.

Scotch Broth, Macaroni cheese and peas, finished off with some ice cream. Pleasant enough, although nothing spectacular. I was warned the food want the best, even by one of the nurses.

I was later visited by a registrar who, in halted English, asked me to sign my consent form and confirmed my choice of valve – me saying pyrolytic carbon totally threw him.

The anesthesiologist went through his prepared speech which sounded much like the one he gave to the people around me, but was very authoritative and confident.

Now it’s just sitting waiting for my evening visit as I quaff a cup of tea.

It’s pleasant enough now, but I could have been greeted with more structure, perhaps having more tailored information sent to me before hand, and having all the explanations and signatures out of the way. I guess this means I have something to keep me busy this evening.

There has been something of a calm that’s started to descend on me. Everything is now completely out of my control and I’m entirely in the hands of the surgery team. There’s no changing things, no turning back, and it’s all going to be over in hours.

I’ve returned to this post after the second visitor slot, my wife just having left with some very emotional hugs at the ward door.

On the way out we meet the surgeon who was asking again if we were happy with my choice of valve and how we were feeling. He seems a very clever and skilled chap, relaxed about it all and very positive. All looks good.

A moment ago a nurse just came to update me on tomorrow’s plan. Tonight some relaxing drugs followed by a whisky chaser. Then it turns out it’s a six a.m. start with more drugs, another pink solution shower, mouthwash and nasal cream, then the drug regime to knock me right out for the operation.

I’m still nervous but surprisingly laid back about it all. Here we go.

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